Revolutionary Measures


A tight squeeze Project 365(2) Day 357

The High Street at Christmas is a loud and particularly garish place. With fewer and fewer physical shoppers retailers have to shout at the tops of their voices to attract attention. Which is probably why I’ve not really noticed the rather catastrophic rebrand of EE (previously Everything Everywhere), the owner of Orange and T-Mobile.

Everything Everywhere was quite obviously an appalling name – although it did give rise to the wonderful FT headline Everything Everywhere disappoints analystswhich pretty much summed up the performance of the telecoms conglomerate. But as a holding company it was fine – you had two strongish brands, Orange and T-Mobile with defined markets so why confuse matters with a third umbrella brand? In a similar way when BA and Iberia merged the new holding company was called International Airlines Group (IAG) – not fancy, not competing with its existing well-established brands, but just providing a name, a website and a name for the stock market.

But EE has decided in its infinite wisdom to essentially bin the Orange and T-Mobile brands. I switch on my phone and it says EE, even though my contract is with Orange and the previously recognisable high street storefronts are now a drab blue grey that looks like it has come from the Farrow and Ball catalogue (my money is on Hague Blue). Given that Orange became successful by being a new, interesting and involving brand that people wanted to be part of and that T-Mobile screamed value to countless students it seems ludicrous to write off that amount of goodwill in a stroke. As Nils Pratley points out in The Guardian it looks more like a dull but worthy European quango than a leading edge telco.

But does it matter? Many people in the technology industry don’t really bother about branding, focusing on building advanced products and services and giving them involved names made up of lots of numbers and Zs and Xs. However while that may work for deeply technical audiences if you want to get mass market appeal you need an appealing and non-threatening brand that is clear and easy to understand. Apple is the obvious example, but looking around the tech industry you can see plenty of others. Even in the telecoms world there has been a lot of effort put into building global brands – from the clever (O2) to the limited (3) and the mundane (Vodafone).

Ironically at a time when it has the UK’s only 4G network, rather than talking about technology advancement, EE seems to be embracing the safe and boring. It may claim that rebranding has ‘re-energised the organisation’, but in a crowded market it looks more like a retreat than a step forward. Apple, Raspberry Pi, Banana Republic – EE should have stuck to fruit………….

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December 12, 2012 Posted by | Creative, Marketing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Short changing the customer?

NFCThere’s been talk about using mobile phones to pay for stuff for a long time, but until now it has been pretty much confined to Japan.

But now the technology seems to be very much coming of age. Last week Orange and Barclaycard announced the UK’s first Near Field Communication (NFC) service, where consumers simply swipe their phone over a reader to pay for low value items. And now Google is poised to announce its own NFC platform, while Apple is reportedly planning to include NFC in the iPhone 5.

The idea is a strong one – why carry around a pocketful of jangling change when you can just wave your phone and buy things? However I think adoption will be slower than predicted – while analysts Forrester predict that 40-50 million NFC equipped phones will be sold in 2011, how many will actually be used in practice? For me, coverage has to be total – if you still need to use cash in your local newsagent you’re not going to leave your wallet at home.

And moving beyond early adopters the biggest fear is going to be privacy – the data you give up on your buying habits will be invaluable to retailers (and the likes of Google). For many people these fears will outweigh the ease of use that NFC brings – remember the protests that greeted the attempted introduction of RFID chips by Tesco and Gillette?

Time for the retail and telecoms industries to be proactive, put in place a code of conduct and head off consumers’ privacy fears before they reach the front page of the Daily Mail……..

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May 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment